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The state of Wisconsin requires that all motorists show proof of financial responsibility for any motor vehicle they are operating. That includes motorcycles. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) offers three ways that motorists can show the required proof. For motorcyclists, those include:
- Posting a bond issued by an insurance company
- Carrying a Wisconsin motorcycle insurance liability policy that includes bodily injury and property damage coverage
- Placing a cash deposit of $60,000 with WisDOT.
Wisconsin Motorcycle Insurance Laws
Further complicating Wisconsin motorcycle insurance matters is that it is an ”at fault” or tort state. That means a rider can be liable for all damages that occur as a result of an accident if they are found to be at fault. If you do not have coverage in place, you will face a license suspension, possible jail time, and can be sued for all damages. Even if you have coverage in place, but it is not sufficient to cover all damages resulting from an at fault accident, you can be sued for any remaining balances.
To help you understand Wisconsin motorcycle insurance issues, let’s have a look at how the state defines a motorcycle for law enforcement and insurance purposes, some of the required equipment to make your bike street legal, as well as the coverage levels and types you may need to be fully protected.
To many, defining a motorcycle seems like a waste of time, but every state is required to do so for law enforcement and insurance purposes. Wisconsin statutes are quite specific when they define a motorcycle. Those statutes define a motorcycle as…
A motor vehicle, excluding a tractor, an all-terrain vehicle, or a utility terrain vehicle, which is capable of speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour with a 150-pound rider on a dry, level, hard surface with no wind, with a power source as an integral part of the vehicle, and which meets the conditions under par. (a) or (b):(a) Type 1 is a motor vehicle which meets either of the following conditions:1. Is designed and built with 2 wheels in tandem and a seat for the operator, and may be modified to have no more than 3 wheels by attaching a sidecar to one side of the wheels in tandem without changing the location of the power source.2. Is designed and built to have no more than 3 wheels, seating for the operator and no more than 3 passengers, and does not have the operator area enclosed.(b) Type 2 is a motor vehicle designed and built to have at least 3 wheels in contact with the ground, a curb weight of less than 1,500 pounds, and a passenger and operator area with sides permanently enclosed with rigid construction and a top which may be convertible.
Wisconsin is famous for two things: beautiful rides and a very short riding season. When you are not conquering miles of pavement, you can find challenging rides in Madison. Whether you are competing with congested traffic or riding in wide open country, your bike needs to be street legal at all times. In the Badger State, the equipment that you and your bike must have includes:
- Eye protection: required, unless equipped with a windscreen that extends 15 inches above the handlebars.
- Handlebar height: maximum of 30 inches above the seat.
- Helmet: required under age 18 and/or with an instructional permit.
- Mirrors: one required.
- Turn Signals: required.
- Passenger Seat and Passenger Footrests: required if carrying a passenger. Passengers must be at least 5 years of age.
- Headlight: required, a modulating daytime headlight is approved.
- Muffler: required, no cutouts permitted. Wisconsin statute 347.39 states: ”No person shall modify the exhaust system of any such motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle.”
- Safety Inspection: random inspections required.
Wisconsin Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
The Wisconsin legislature has determined that the minimum coverage amounts for a Wisconsin motorcycle insurance policy should be:
- $25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person.
- $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons.
- $10,000 for damage or destruction of property.
Please keep in mind, these only protect your liability in the event of an accident. They do not protect your bike. For this reason, we highly recommend collision and comprehensive insurance.
- Collision: Protects your bike in the event of a collision with a vehicle, object, and sometimes an animal.
- Comprehensive: Protects your bike in the event of a non-collision damages. For example: wind, fire, flood, theft, vandalism, etc.
If you’re insuring a custom bike, it pays to look into Custom Parts and Equipment Coverage (CPE). This will protect aftermarket, custom, and handmade parts that otherwise might not be covered.
Wisconsin Motorcycle Insurance Rates
- Make/Model/Year of Bike
- Types of Coverage
- Coverage Limits
- Driving Record
This list goes on. Fortunately, we can help you streamline this process. We work with motorcycle insurers across the state to help you review policies and quotes from the comfort of your computer. Enter your zip code to get started. A list of respected insurers in your area will be displayed. Select the ones you’re interested in, and follow the steps to begin comparing rates and policies. It’s that easy.
Review Rates and Policies Online
Enter Zip Code